Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Exquisite CΔrpse: Forest Law

 Sorry this post is a little late, I got distracted by things. Shout out to Xenophon of Athens, RandomWizard, semi-IDIOT, deus ex shit, Purplethulu, TheFirstGokun, Spwack, Sundered, Squig, theisticGilthoniel, Filth Pig and Phlox for participating. I have added a lot of connective tissue between these templates to tie them together, but left each delta itself unedited.

Spooky Deer

Δelta: Forest Law

Despite the best efforts of the Church, various heresies, secret societies and mystery cults hide within the cracks of society like weeds. Not all of them need to be rooted out however, many have been absorbed into the Church, or brought to heel or made allies. One such practice is the elven traditions of the Grey-Black Forests, which itself is built upon knots of compromises between it's people, it's trees and the Stag Lords. Thier traditions are strange, on one hand they hold to the virtues of impartial justice and purity, on the other thier lands have a hunting seasons not only for deer but human and elf. When a tiger eats someone in the Grey-Black you do not hunt it down, you bring the beast to court before a Forest Judge. Some Judges are rooted to a single community, others wander. Despite being heretical  it's considered good fortune to meet one, for they are known to carry with them waters of healing and wisdom.

To gain templates from a  rank of Forest Law you must have at least one template from the previous rank. Don't try to cheat this, the Forest can tell. As with many deltas, this list is not exhaustive.

0. Neophyte

To pronounce judgements, one must first prove they are capable of mercy. The conservitive judges may look down upon your initiation if you are neither an elf nor a local, but they can not stop you by the Law.

The Calling: (Xenophon of Athens)
  • Happen upon an injured or ailing wild animal. Treat their condition, and ensure they are healed. You can sense the locations of animals both wild and domestic. 
  • With a gentle mental pull, you can call them to you, and they will come in peace and friendship. You cannot speak with them, but you can exchange emotions non-verbally. If you cause harm to an animal you've called or located, you lose this ability.

1. Acolyte

To pronounce judgement in the Forest, you must understand it. To understand the Forest, you must understand it's waters. Clean and unclean, ill or hale, pure and vile. At this rank you are expected to follow the instruction of your seniors.

The Curing: (RandomWizard)
  • Call to a wild animal stricken with illness, and have them drink clean water from your open hands.
  • With an hour of searching in a wilderness area, you can find medicinal herbs that can cure (or at least slow) any disease. Children and animals in need of such treatment can instinctively sense that you can help them, and will come to you of their own accord.
The Cleansing: (Gorinich)
  • Call to a lost person with stricken with guilt and forgive them for what they have done. 
  • With good clean water and a little quiet you can wash away curses and profane powers. If you can't completely get rid of it, you can at least suppress it.
Take Me Up, Cast Me Away: (deus ex shit)
  • Confront someone in a place they thought was safe. Make them blind and deaf and dumb with a sharp blade. If they didn't deserve this, find another and start again. When they die, find another and start again.
  • When you look into someone's eyes, you can tell if they have seen evil and not confronted it, heard evil and not objected to it, or spoken of evil without condemning it. You learn when and where this happened but not what, specifically, they failed to do. If you remove the offending eye, ear or tongue you may immediately graft it onto someone else to replace a damaged or missing part.

2. Judge

To pronounce judgements, you must have the power to inforce them. There are a number of ways to prove your commitment before the Forest. You are now equal to your seniors, outranked by the Stag Lords, who are outranked by the King of Deer.

Unto The Silent Waters: (semi-IDIOT)
  • Take someone whose sins could not be forgiven by their victim or by two impartial judges of good standing who've heard their testimony. Drown them in the dead of night. Make sure their body is never found. 
  • In dark or murky water you can summon the revenant of the one you drowned to drag down another. If this is judged unjust by higher powers, then you will disappear into the next body of water you touch.
Hands of Glory: (Purplecthulhu)
  • Take the left hand of a thief and the right hand of a murderer, preserve them from rot, and wear them on your person. If you lose the hands, or use the abilities to steal or unjustly kill, you lose these benefits.
  • So long as you have the left hand, mundane locks click open open at your touch, and lights held by you are only visible by those you wish to see it. So long as you have the right hand, you can preternaturally sense illness, injury, and blood.
Blessed Child of Nature: (Spwack)
  • Go out into the wild with nothing at all. Return, well-fed, well-dressed, and well-storied. 
  • If you fought tough-and-nail to accomplish this challenge, then you can arm yourself appropriately, growing your teeth and nails with a thought and shrinking them as you like. If you relied on the benevolence of nature, then you can whistle back to songbirds and have them follow you about, sup with the King of Deer whenever you like, and be politely hunted by tigers.
Dryad's burden: (theisticGilthoniel)
  • offer to swap places with a dryad and have your offer accepted 
  • You now count as a forest creature, a spirit, a tree, and a woman for the purposes of ritual and law. Also there is a particular tree where, if it dies, you die. Burning it down is not generally enough, but a surprising amount of the dryads who swap with mortals were already dying of root rot or something. You can't exit the watershed that the tree is in, lest you die, but you do know that border at all times. Lose this template if you swap back.

3. High Judge

Techically no such rank exists in the Law, but those who rise high are considered first amoung equals. Be careful not to outshine the Stag Lords, who still outrank you in principle.

Clean Hands: (TheFirstGokun)
  • Wear neither foot coverings nor gloves. Do not touch that which is unclean with your bare hands or feet. Eat only from the hands of a devoted attendant, or with long, easily tarnished silverware. If you become dirty or arrogant, you lose these benefits.
  • So long as they are clean, your hands do the work of ten men and women. So long as your feet are clean, you walk, run, and jump with the strength of ten men and women.
Stag’s Salute: (Squig)
  • Bow to a reigning stag of a forest, and be bowed to in turn.
  • When you treat with rulers, be they human or otherwise, you will always be politely greeted. Peasants and smallfolk will typically identify you as nobility. If a crime is committed against you in a forest of a stag who has saluted you, you will be guaranteed a fair trial in their court.
Greedy Arborist: (Filth Pig)
  • Plant a tree in a location you have never seen nor been to
  • Any tree you have planted and the grounds within ten feet of said tree count as part of “your” forest for the purpose of travel, ritual and law.

4. Pariah

Also not a recgonised rank of the judical hiearchy, but the Forest has Laws older then the Antlered King.

Buck Spirit: (Sundered) 
  • Kill the King of Deer. 
  • All wild animals hate and fear you on sight. In addition, when you drink an animal's blood, you gain its most notable features until you drink another animal's blood, or you can turn into that animal for an hour, after which you lose the benefits of the blood you've drank.

5. Anathema

This is a rank is codifed in the Law. Judgement has been pronounced upon you and the verdict is death.

Grown to Purpose: (Phlox)
  • Water five of your trees with the blood of an enemy.
  • Wooden arms and armor crafted from your trees are as effective as +1 steel. When you craft such an item, you can give it a NAME with at least five meaningful words. If you are doing an action that fulfills that NAME, you can temporarily increase the bonus to +5, after which the item shatters forever.


I may have been a few weeks late with posting this one, but with Exquisite CΔrpse 3 in the works I suddently felt the pressure to finally put up the post for Exquisite CΔrpse 2. Please do not tell me exactly how late I am.

I'm happy I was able to bring this all together into something coherent. Compared to the first one there was a lot less space for things to converge becouse there was only one round, and so it remained a bit all over the place. However I think I managed to bring it all together, the trick for making deltas make sense is specificity. Making Forest Law represent the religious/judical tradition of a specific region really helped bring it together. There are some gaps in abilites you would expect a 'judge' archtype to have, such as understanding of legal codes, however you can qualify for being a Judge by fighting for it tooth and nail to get Blessed Child of Nature, so I think Forest Law is a bit different from city law.

I think despite all the inconsistant quirks of the process a throughline does present itself. To become a judge you must first show that you want to help, then you can serve justice as restoritively or retributively as you feel is correct, but if you want greater power you must break taboos and it may or may not even be worth it.

Another note, according to the doctrine of anti-canon the Stag Lords can be anything from talking deer, to beastmen, to elves who wear antler crowns, but I must insist that the King of Deer is always a huge magical talking deer.

Monday, August 7, 2023

Neither Here Nor There (Class: Elf)

My last post has been around 2 or 3 years ago, those that frequent the secret gathering places of gretchlings will know I never really went away, I just went from a participant to a lurker. Likely becouse I have been playing recently I have had ideas about what to write. I don't want to promise anyone more consistant posting, but I do have a class for you today.


They say that when the world was young and magic filled the land, elves worked miracles and wonders. They were tall and beautiful and at harmony with the world. Spells that modern sorcerors and hedge witches would not dream to control played at the fingertips, for spells are kin to elves. That they could with their hands wieve such enchantments, castles of shimmering light, carriages pulled by moths. But this was long ago and untrue.

By some quirk of fate, children are born nowadays with a spark of that elvish art in their souls. Many live their lives being none the wiser to this, aside from a nagging feeling in the back of their head. If only you could be so fortunate. You do not know quite what you are, but they call you an elf, the dwindling rustic folk of dell and cave. The children of the day see you as wild child, a disruption to the proper way of things. The children of the night see as corrupted, a slave that clings to their shackles. They want to seperate what they like about you from what they don't, but it doesn't work like that you are both your halves. So you wander the world, child of the twilight hours, not wild, not domesticated but feral.


Class: Feral Elf

While this is a racial class, you don't have to take it at first level. If you cavort under the Moon at night and cast aside the trappings of civilization before her, you may discover that you were an elf all along.

Starting Items and Skills: By Kin.

A: Heartspell, Moondancer, Changeling

B: Smile in the Sky, Plump Round Eye


You are born with a human body, and the soul of a spell. Choose your spell from a GM approved list. You can always cast it unless your touching Cold Iron Cold Iron is simply iron that is cold, not a special type of metal. It can not be removed from you without killing you, and you can cast it with more finesse than a wizard could ever manage. If you become a ghost, wizards can treat your ghost like any other spell, albeit an unusually intelligent one.

When you roll doubles, you forget your human self for 1d4 turns and forcebly lose a random Tether. Your fae self panics, entering a flight or fight response befitting your nature.

When you roll triples you forget your human self for 1d4 days, forcefully losing a random Tether. Your fae self feels itself wither, and seeks escape. You will run, scream, gnaw your own leg, anything to get away from the fading of magic.

If after a double or a triple leaves you completely untetherd, you run wild indefinitely. However, you can be brought back if someone who cares about you Tethers you back. For example, calling your human name, throwing clothes at you, luring you in with Grandma’s soup.


You have 4 Moon Dice that you can use exclusively to cast your Heartspell, aside from that they are identical to Magic Dice. Your MD returns to you when you frolic for at least an hour under the moonlight.

You lose 1 maximum MD for each Tether that connects you with the Sun’s world. You can increase your maximum MD back by casting aside any amount of these Tethers before the Moon and cavorting for a full night.

Tools: To cast aside tools requires you not to use crafted instruments. Rocks and sticks on the ground are fine, but not sharpened ones.

Shelter: To cast aside shelter requires you don’t wear clothes or rest in buildings. Making a nest of old rags in an abandoned ruin may be fine, at the GM’s discretion.

Language: To cast aside language requires you not read and tune out the words in speech. You can get by fine with non-verbal communication especially with those you know well.

Culture: To cast aside culture requires you to ignore your vocation, social standing and obligations. Hanging around with vagrants is fine.

No matter how many times you come back from the Sun’s world, she always accepts your pledge, that this time you're truly casting it aside. She is always laughing.


You have two selves, your human self and your fae self. Each Heartspell has it’s Kin, which comes with four Gifts and a favored environment. If you pick a spell that doesn't have a known kin, work with your GM to establish it.

Count both Moon Dice and Magic Dice for your total MD. At 0 MD you appear to be entirely human, at 4 you appear to be entirely fae with all that entails. In between you look like some sort of hybrid. Humans and spirits are both generally more comfortable with you at the extremes of the spectrum than the middle, but the extremes are more uncomfortable for you.

Each MD grants you access to the next Gift on the list and makes it easier for you to sense and interact with the world unseen.

At 1 MD you do not need to sleep, as long as you cavort at night.

At 2 MD you see under moon and starlight as during the day, and can cast a cantrip version of your Heartspell. Cold Iron is twice as encumbering for you.

At 3 MD you can live comfortably in your preferred environment without the Sun’s Tethers, both in body and in instinct. Cold Iron hurts like a hot stove. E.G. Not needing warm clothes in the tundra, not needing shade in the desert,being able to hunt food with your hands and teeth alone.

At 4 MD treat your body as lightly armored, your limbs as light weapons and communicate freely with creatures you share a likeness with. Cold Iron deals max damage to you.

You can choose a new Gift if you aquire more then 4 MD, adding it to the end of the ordered list, but each midnight you meet with 5+ MD you must save or forget your human self for a day.

Smile In the Sky:

Fools think that the Moon is most powerful when it’s full, the wise know that this is not true. The Moon goes dark because her light descends down into the earth, sinking into the ground, onto our tongues, beneath our fingernails. 

When a crescent hangs in the sky, you have Gifts equal to your Maximum Moon Dice if it’s higher then your current MD. On the New Moon you have all your gifts regardless of your Tethers, like it or not.

Plump Round Eye:

As the Moon waxes she collects back the light that has been soaking in the soil. With all this light she churns the world, and bids it dance.

When a gibbous hangs in the sky, you can cast aside your Tethers within a moment's notice. If you break something valuable, like a magic item or someone's faith in you immiditaly restore an MD. During the Full Moon all your Moon Dice fly back to the Moon, leaving you restless and entirely human for the night.



Lanky and sinewy things, stalking between willows on padded feet, long limbs keep it above the water. You might catch a glimpse of one in the mist, as it calls out to you with a mellow voice. Do not dare approach, do not run away, it’s aim is to lead you astray, to turn you around and around in the fog. Stick to the road, make note of landmarks, and count your steps.



R: 30’ T: self D: [dice] hours

You breath out a bunch of fog. Everything up to 30' away from you is obscured.

Sunlight, wind, or heat dissipates the fog in 10 minutes. If you cast this spell with

3 or more [dice], other casters lose 1 MD while they remain in the fog.

Starting Equipment: Water-resistant clothes, simple knife, a ration of preserved fish

Starting Skill (1d3): Trapper, Fisherman, Distiller

Favored Environment: Foggy forests, steamy swamps, and misty marshes

First Gift: Pointed ears, and webbed toes. You have perfect vision in mist and fog, regardless of light. You can imprecisely mimic the voices anyone you’ve recently heard.

Second Gift: Your limbs are longer, you have a short tail, if not clearly visible can selectively decide who hears your voice. When you sing in your Fog, you can control the movement of anyone going to or away from your voice. After [sum] minutes of following/escaping your voice, they understand the trick and won’t fall for it again. Time flows strangly in there, it will feel like [sum] days have passed.

Third Gift: Your hands and feet are padded, your teeth grow sharper, and your tail grows longer. Your footsteps are quiet, and completely silent when on all fours. Your bite counts as a medium weapon, and your stomach prefers raw meat and doesn't tolerate cooked food. Direct sunlight gives you a point of fatigue.

Fourth Gift: Your skin is gray like mist. When not directly observed in your Fog, you could be anywhere in it. By casting Fog directly into someone’s ear you can make them forget the last 10 minutes, but only if they fail a save and have [dice]x4 or less HD.

Gluntie Queyne

Gangling, bristly and ungainly fairy women. Horse-faced and haggard and possessed of an abrasive angularity of demeanour. The Glunties dwell apart in realms of fearful loneliness as their capacity to strike men dead with elf-shot makes them formidable and hated and their tendency to imbibe inebriants immoderately makes them unpredictable.


Magic Missile

R: 200' T: creature D: 0 

Target takes [sum] + [dice] damage, no Save.

Starting Equipment: Traveler’s clothes, hunting bow, and a ration of jerky

Starting Skill (1d3): Banditry, Town Drunk, Shepard

Favored Environment: Wind-swept prairies, fields and steppes

First Gift: Pointed ears and large teeth. You can use vaguely similar detritus in place of ammunition for normal damage, like sticks instead of arrows or peas instead of bullets. Ranged weapons loaded this way do not Tether you to Tools.

Second Gift: Coarsely hairy arms, and long face. When casting Magic Missile, you can split the damage into as many distinct projectiles  as you want, as long as each missile deals at least 1 point of damage.

Third Gift: Your legs are hooved, and your bow-pulling arm has only two fingers. You can move like mounted cavalry, shoot like a horse archer, and can run through grass at full tilt without disturbing the grass. Your stomach is suited to digest raw meat and grass, but not cooked food.

Fourth Gift: Single cyclopean eye. Your Magic Missiles are invisible, silent and deal internal injuries. They are experienced as sudden bouts of localized pain, and can be non lethal if you so wish. 


Diminutive borrowers of toys and intricate things, petty breakers of tools left too long in forgotten drawers. Spirits of the unfinished task, cut short by the bent nail or the wrong screwdriver. Mischief achieved they make amends by mending what they had broken, and sometimes more besides. Many a broken marriage has been mended by the ministrations of a Gremling, forecasted by unexpected annoyance and woe.



Range: touch; Target: object; Duration: instant

Repair a shattered item. You need 1/(sum) of the item. Can't Mend different pieces of the item into multiple copies. Doesn't restore lost magical properties.

Starting Equipment: Commoner’s clothes, a whittling knife or other clever tool, a ration of stale cookies

Starting Skill (1d3): Housework, Animal Husbandry, Gossip

Favored Environment: Dusty attics, old workshops, and cool dry caves

First Gift: Pointed ears and squinty eyes like a rat. Tools do not Tether you if used to fix things for someone else, and know the Tinker skill intuitively. Objects you mend will tell you their stories. Objects remember and care for only the narrow topic of things related to their function, but they remember people who take good care of them.

Second Gift: You're a head shorter than most people. You constantly unconsciously touch things around you with your quick clever hands, fingers lingering against cracks and faults and points of wear. Your fingers are covered with light brown fur; You can reverse Mending into Break, causing the object to take [sum] damage, but the damage is only revealed the next time someone interacts with it.

Third Gift: You're the size of a doll, and pass for one when still. Despite this you have as much inventory space as in your human form, in a pouch on your belly. If you have any shred of cover, then you are considered to have full cover, allowing you to hide behind cups and cracks between furnature.

Fourth Gift: Your whole body is covered in soft brown fur, and you don’t seem to have distinct internal organs, like a plush toy. You can use Mending with 4 [dice] to restore the magical properties of things, but it leaves you very very hungry for something very very specific. You can’t cast or think straight until you satisfy a peculiar craving slected by the GM.


Alabaster skin, cloven hooves, eyes the size of dinner plates. Always first to meet her to meet her smile with their own. Some say they are her favorite, but they only claim that she is theirs. They look gentle, and even kind, but be weary! For it is they who rouse the other kin to prance under the moonlight, for it is they who take away children and make fairies out of them. 



R: 50' T: creature D: varies

Target creature loves the moon. They want to stare at it, jump up and hold it, or

write poems about it. If [sum] is equal to or greater than the target's HD, they are

stunned for 1d6 rounds. If [sum] is greater than 12, the target is stunned for 2d6

rounds and becomes permanently obsessed with the moon.

Starting Equipment: Bedazzled Clothes, gnarled walking stick, a ration of hard cheese

Staring Skill (1d3): Dancer, Astronomer, Prophet

Favored Environment: Clear and barren places, where neither trees nor clouds occlude the Moon

First Gift: Pointed ears, pupils that fill most of the eye. If you are lost under the open night sky, you will always find a safe place to rest and make anyone who should have ambushed you just as surprised to see you. Language does not Tether you if you're saying good things about the Moon.

Second Gift: Little nubby horns, pale skin. People under the effect of Moonlust will attack anyone perceived as disrespecting the Moon. If [sum] is greater than 6 you can choose to reach your magic down your target’s throat and ‘pluck’ a nerve, they can save to negate. This causes werewolves to turn, elves to suffer the same reaction as rolling a double on casting their Heartspell, and anyone else to do something reckless and wild. At the GM's leasure or a player's wish, a character previously unknown to be an elf may gain a template in Feral Elf this way.

Third Gift: Cloven hooves, deathly pale skin. Food is replaced for you by the Moon, you only need regular access to the night sky to sustain yourself. You can float up to a foot above the ground instead of walking, and no matter how lost you are, you will find a way to your destination eventually.

Fourth Gift: Great big horns, eyes the size of dinner plates. You can choose to have your Moonlust target anyone who hears your voice, but they save against the ‘pluck’ with advantage. You can't choose not to 'pluck' if you can.


First of all, aside from Mending, the spells in this post were sourced from the ever reliable Skerples. Second, this class riffs heavily on Ten Foot Polemic's and Middenmurk's Fallen Elves idea. My interpretion of the concept in large part differs becouse I didn't originally set off to adapt it into the GLOG.

On a whim I decided to stat up a cast of characters which has been bouncing around in my head using GLOG classes. Two of them could be faithfully rolled up with existing ones but not the third. The Fallen Elves fit the facts already established for my third character, so I wrote a class to cover both. This ended up both heavily impacting how I wrote the class, and filled in a lot of the gaps in the character's backstory.

In the past I would go over all the choices I made, but this time I'm going to forgo that hoping to generate more discussion in comments and the various discord channels. I will however explicitly spell out the implied Gift progression for anyone who wants to write their own Kin.
  • The first gifts all consist of some combination of a special elfy extra-sense, an exception to Tethers, and/or a nifty trick.
  • The second gifts expands on the use of the Heartspell in some way. 
  • Third gifts are when elves become wild enough to live without civilisation, so this is the point where they get the bonuses and drawbacks that enable them to do so.
  • Fourth gifts are another expansion on the Heartspell, as well as well as rounding off the physical transformation.
Eventually I will get around to a write up of each Kin in the Elfin Spellery. I wrote the Bolotnik to represent the previously mentioned character, and the Moon-Gander becouse I think Moonlust deserves to have an elf.

On theme in this class that it feels irresponsible for me not to address is how it relates to disability. The Fallen Elves are directly based changelings, an idea that is in part the result the medieval people trying to explain disabilities. This however isn't new ground, the problomatic elements I introduced lies in how I wrote this class to have the trade off of behaving as if you were disabled in exchange for magical power. I think this is a intresting narrative and gameplay space, but it's shaky ground to tread on and just becouse I'm neurodivergent doesn't mean I can't unintentionally propogate harmful ideas. Unlike various druid classes where you are a guy who's deciding to be an anarcho-primitivist, being an elf is something you are born with, which changes the implications segnificantly.

Finally, yes this post's drawing is that of my Bolotnik blorbo.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Δelta: Key and Lock Arts

The purpose of a wall is deny access to a location, the purpose of a tunnel is to allow access to a location, the purpose of a door is to do both. Ironically many of the thaumaturges who devote themselves the most to doors must blind themselves to this fact if they want to practice the secret Arts of Key and Lock.

To iterate, a door is meant to be semi-permeable. If it allows everything through or allows nothing through it's not a good door. At the very least they should be easily let people pass, but keep temperature and spirits on one side of the threshold. A door can be more selective in what it allows through with other methods like locks and guards and riddles. A door can be less selective by other methods such as being light enough that the wind can open it. But in any case, it is paramount that it both allows and denies. Doors are not the only domain where such a pattern is observed. Your skin both traps heat within you and sweats it out to keep that you need boil or freeze. Rope is tied in knots that are both sturdy and easy to undo, so that sails are bound or unfurled in response to the winds. Communities accept and reject people based an numberless traits, thereby establishing their identity. Law tells what people can and cannot do, theoretically to support justice. People accept and discard countless things and thereby define who they are. Differentiating things is vital for anything to survive and make sense of the world and have free will, and is the ability that is sacrificed to the Key and the Lock.

Key and Lock Arts are a simple metaphysical exchange. It's a promise that when presented with a specific 'yes' or a 'no' question your answer will always be the same regardless of circumstance, but in exchange the 'yes' or 'no' becomes a 'YES!' or a 'NO!' that the universe is compelled to listen to. A Key adept of doors can enter any building but cannot close the path behind them. A Lock adept of doors can barricade themselves inside any building but trapped inside once they do so. This begs the question of what happens when a Key adept tries to open a door that a Lock adept is keeping closed, for that I'll define a scale to measure magical might by.

Unstoppable Force vs Immovable Object:

Some magics are stronger then others. Some arcane bindings can only hold back ghosts, while other cannot be breached by the gods. Magical forces that can break through barriers also vary from being able to shatter weak barriers to forcing all doors to open before them. Here are some rules for how to rule that.

In a scenario where two magical Forces are pushing against each other. Figure out which rank of power each Force has, the one with the higher rank wins. If they have the same rank, the the defending Force wins, unless the attacking force can find a key (such a dragon's True Name) or an opening (such as a momentary lapse of concentration) in the defending Force. If neither is the clear aggressor, the Forces are stuck in a grapple until something changes (such as one side growing tired and leaving an opening for the other). Finding a key or an opening can be thought of as lowering an opponent's rank down one.

It is known that casting magic is an act of Will, so enchantments are ranked by what is the strongest Will that cannot break from it. Note that offensive and defensive ranks in a given situation do not have to match up. Demons can often be Trivially held back with a simple gesture while being capable of Strong possession. Likewise a human with a good head on their shoulders and a Strong heart is unlikely to be capable of even Trivial possession.
  1. Trivial- Cannot be overcome by the soulless. Fey, figments, egregores, sorcerers who sold away their heart.
  2. Weak- Cannot be overcome by Wills that lose sight of themselves. Ghosts, directionless people, most household items, broken spirits.
  3. Strong- Cannot be overcome by Wills that think they understand themselves. Steady hearts, desperate souls, houses that have lived a hundred years, rivers, wild horses, mere insects.
  4. Great-Cannot be overcome by Wills that know themselves. Saints, Dragons, Oceans.

This ruleset is MOSAIC Strict and arguably unnecessary because you could probably get the same result by just using the everyday definitions of Trivial/Weak/Strong/Great to describe how powerful magics are.

🔑Key Arts:

The Oath Unbarred:
Choose a domain in which things there is an 'open' and 'closed's state, swear an oath to always keep that thing open. If you ever 'close' your domain, lose this template.
  • You can open anything in your domain with Weak power, keeping it magically opened for as long as you keep The Oath Unbarred or the magic is broken. 
  • You can dispel this magic with a thought.

Ritual of Unlocking:
Take something that keeps you safe and secured and sacrifice it to power an Oath Unbarred. If you ever regain this something, lose this template.
  • You can open anything in your domain with Strong power, and do so with barely a glance. 
  • You can dispel this magic with a few minutes of concentration. 
  • Closing in your domain becomes difficult, like pulling out nails with your bare hands or lifting a stone block. 

Forget whatever it was that you sacrificed to get Ritual of Unlocking. You can not lose this template.
  • You can open anything in your domain with Great power. 
  • You cannot dispel this magic.
  • You cannot close anything in your domain, no matter how much you try.

🔒Lock Arts:

The Oath Contained:
Choose a domain in which things there is an 'open' and 'closed's state, swear an oath to always keep that thing closed. If you ever 'open' your domain, lose this template.
  • You can close anything in your domain with Weak power, keeping it magically sealed for as long as you keep The Oath Contained or or the magic is broken. 
  • You can dispel this magic with a thought.

Ritual of Sealing:
Take something that you treasure and make it completely inaccessible, and swear by an Oath Contained. If anyone comes into contact with it, lose this template.
  • You can close anything in your domain with Strong power.  
  • You can dispel this magic with a few minutes concentration.
  • Opening in your domain becomes difficult, like pulling out nails with your bare hands or lifting a stone block.

Forget whatever it was you hide in the Ritual of Sealing. You can not lose this template.
  • You can close anything in your domain with Great power. 
  • You cannot dispel this magic.
  • You can not open anything in your domain, no matter how much you try. 


You can take the same Key or Lock Arts multiple times by taking the Art in different domains. A domain can be practically anything as long as the actions of 'opening' or allowing and 'closing' or denying can be applied to it. However make sure to keep it consistent. When a player takes an oath Unbarred or Contained make sure to come to an agreement with GM on what that oath applies to and write it down somewhere for future reference. Here are a list of possible examples.
  • Doors:This one is fairly straight forward. Key adepts are able to open doors with it, Lock adepts can keep them shut.
  • Specific Doors: The domain can be as narrow as one door. This is actually more common then choosing doors in general, a lot of Lock adepts are dedicated to protecting one vault from intruders. The more secure prisons of the world are enchanted to prevent inmates from using Key Arts against the specific doors that hold them. 
  • Truth: As a Key Art everyone must answer your questions truthfully, but you must answer their questions truthfully as well. As a Lock Art no one can force an answer out of you, but you can't force an answer out of someone either.
  • Skin: As a Key Art allows you to cut with ease, making you able to leave terrible wounds with a dull knife or blade of grass but leaving you vulnerable of the same. As a Lock Art you can make skin impermeable or fuse wounds shut which can be bad if you need to sweat off excessive heat.
  • Dreams: Naturally one's dreamworld has a semipermeable membrane connecting it to the rest of the dreamscape. Removing the membrane allows you to freely shift the dreams of others but leaves you exposed to astral parasites, while closing it off completely defending you from outside influences but leaves you spiritually inert.
  • Contract: Everyone knows what magical contracts are, two sides form an agreement and if one breaks their end then they start coughing up blood and the other side knows about it immediately, this is a classic Lock Art. The related Key Art allows you to break the Contract without the blood or notification. Authoritys hate them, Oathbreakers get axed even more immediately then Orbseekers.
  • Death: You can open yourself to death, this means you will die more easily but making it easier for you to come back as a ghost. You can close yourself to death, not preventing yourself from dying but preventing your soul from leaving the body, this is an important step on the road to lichdom.
  • Wood Joints: In the east there is a tradition of mage wrought carpentry, where structures are kept together by Lock Arts, creating structures that easy to erect but you need to trust the adept to keep it stable. Often the Lock mage in question is killed and buried in the building to ensure it's integrety.
This ruleset is MOSAIC Strict if you include the Unstoppable Force vs Immovable Object rules, otherwise it's MOSIC.


I've been picking at this post for at least half a year, and have been mulling over this concept for around a year, but probably longer. The influences for this subsystem consist of the Knock principle in Cultist Simulator, Arnold K's Door Wizard, my CompSci classes and a character one of my friends back in high school made up. The character was a robot that opened doors but could not conceive of and/or fell into existential dread over the idea of closing them, his name was Doorbot. Also shout out to a special someone who willingly discussed if Key adepts can rip pieces of paper or not.

Actually I started writing this post shortly after the time that the Pyromancy Delta dropped. The clever idea I had at the time was that there would be separate Key and Lock delta trees that would eventually merge into a a Thresholds tree that is a synthesis of the two. To gain the Threshold templates you would also have to lose Key and Lock abilities. Also lower ranks were going to be almost mundane roguish abilities that would eventually give way to more and more supernatural ones. Also I wanted it to follow a 'cops and robbers' theme where both Key and Lock deltas have abilities that make sense on both sides of the law. I didn't get far with this plan because it turned out to much for my tiny brain to handle, so this sat in drafts until it occurred to me to take the "open any door, but you cannot close them" template and just expand that into it's own thing.

I'm happy with how this system turned out. Like always I end up writing an elaborate magic system that has interesting setting implications but don't house it in a specific setting where those implications can be explored. I really need to make a setting and stick with it long enough to get something cool out of it. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Exquisite CΔrpse: Red Knife Heresy

Recently I ran a "Exquisite CΔrpse" on the Phlox GLOGscord. It's like the game of Exquisite Corpse, but instead of drawing we're writing abilities. You can read the rules here. Special thanks to SunderedWorldDM, Locheil, Phlox, Lexi, Spawk, Squigboss, Owlbear Chickenhawk and a Random Wizard for participating. As well as Hawk-Moth for helping with coming up with a name for this thing.

Δelta: Red Knife Heresy

Despite the best efforts of the Church, various heresies, secret societies and mystery cults hide within the cracks of society like weeds. A worryingly large amount of seemingly unrelated sects and stray occultists have converged on similar themes of Blood and flint knives. The madmen who fit under these themes are dubbed Red Knife Heretics and their leaders are the Red Knife Heresiarchs,  who hold strange and twisted powers. They know something about the world that we do not.

The Eye of a Heresiarch sees things about you that you cannot, they look right through you. 
The Foot of a Heresiarch lands eerily, like they are not walking on the same earth as us. 
The Hand of a Heresiarch twitches as if brushing over unseen strings, that it is itching to pluck.

The knife is a tool with many uses, it can kill but it can also be used to prepare bread, whittle a nice smoking pipe, or draw blood. A sharp blade is a versatile tool even in the hands of an ignorant peasant. With the Eye, Foot and Hand of a Heresiarch a Knife can do so much more. It can precisely draw out the power in the pulsing of Blood.

The Blood of a Heresiarch is an undeniable red that stains and binds.

Thus they are called Red Knife Heresiarchs, because the the flint knives they use end up as knives that are red. Their goals an methods may not seem to make sense, but for them the powers they get are just natural consequences of how the world works. They are hunted down and silenced because these bastards tend to cause trouble. 

Each Heretical Power follows the format of a Name in bold and ranked, a requirement in italics which describes how one could gain the Power and description in normal text, which describes what it does. Some Powers have multiple effects. To get a Power you need to have at least 1 Power of a lower rank. This Delta set is MOSAIC Strict.

(0) A Secret: (Gorinich)
  • Have it revealed to you when initiated into a secret society or mystery cult. Piece it together from confounding ancient texts. Or learn it from the lips of an alien being. You know a Secret.
  • Your Secret is precious! That's why you always notice if your your being followed, and feel it when your being watched.
  • Your Secret is ineffable! Discussions about your Secret sounds like gibberish to those unaware, and as the Secret touches everything you can talk on any topic in a way they won't understand. Those who know this Secret will understand you clearly.
  • Your Secret is illuminating! You now recognize new patterns that were there all along! There is a method to the madness! You can hear the angels in the walls the winds the waters, even if you can't make out their words. THEY ARE THERE!
  • Your Secret is simple. You no longer fear the unknown, because you know a Secret.

(1) Freed from Fungus: (SunderedWorldDM)
  • When you manage to find some cure for the fungal infection that plagues you.
  • Plants are instinctively afraid of you, and will do all in their power to avoid you, and if not, submit to your greater will. With enough time, you can destroy any plant by crushing it underfoot.
(1) Pigeon-Wrangler: (Lexi)
  • Spend a week feeding the pigeons (or similar intelligent, flocking pests) in an area. When you move or stop feeding them for more than a day at a time, restart.
  • With a shout and pointing out an appropriately-greasy sacrifice of food, you can summon a cloud of d10*d10 pigeons (or similar flocking pests) to surround the food until it runs out. If you hold the food, they'll protect you. If someone else has the food, the pigeons will attack them until they get it. Deals 1 damage per attack for every 10 pigeons in the cloud, round up.
(2) Freed from Fury: (Loch)
  • When you manage to find some cure for the unreasonable anger which plagues you.
  • Animals are instinctively calmed by you. You may instantly befriend any ordinary beast or creature with bones.
(2) Furious Freedom: (Phlox)
  • When you manage to find people who accept and support your unreasonable anger.
  • You can communicate a minutes-long message in only a few seconds, assuming it is all totally heartfelt and communicated through the medium of shrieks or yells. 
  • With a day of prowling in an urban environment, you can earn the service of 1d4 malcontents until they get too hurt or annoyed.
(2) Gremlin-Child of the City: (Spwack)
  • Never eat anything you haven't found, stolen, scrounged, or made yourself. Stealing scraps is always fine, accepting charity is barely permitted.
  • While you are in a city where you have never purchased food, you always land on your feet whenever you fall, in every sense. No matter if it is a fall from a great height, a sudden betrayal, theft, or the assassination of your companions, you always manage to stick the landing, and hold onto a just a little of what you had.
(3) Finger-Taker: (Squig)
  • Steal and eat the fingers of a human, elf, dwarf, goblin, orc, and dragon. 
  • If you wish, you can touch and grab things without your fingers being felt: if you touch someone's arms, they feel neither pressure nor heat. This makes you very, very good at pickpocketing, stealing random accessories (belts, rings, etc.), and checking someone for weapons.
(3) Eye-Taker: (RandomWizard)
  • Steal and eat the eyes of a child, corpse, dragon, and capital-W Wizard.
  • Nobody can sense or tell you're looking at them unless you wish it. Once per day, you may blind and paralyze someone for as long as you can maintain an unbroken stare at them. Stabbing them in the back repeatedly or stealing something from them does not break the stare.
(3) Eye-Giver: (Owlbear Chickenhawk)
  • Remove an eye from your head and throw it down a well. It will not go to the worms. If someone finds your eye, repeat this process, with your old eye or a new one.
  • If you carve the eye out of a creature and eat it, you can see through its other eye. While you are not looking through it, the eye cannot see. They will be one-eyed and blind forever, except when you are watching with them.
(4) Flint Knife Midwife: (Gorinich)
  • Poke a hole in yourself with a flint knife and feed a pint of your blood to at least 3 targets of your secret powers, they are now your acolytes. The blood does not have to have to be fed all at the same time for it to work. If any of your acolytes literally bites your hand or makes you their acolyte, grow terribly sick and lose this template.
  • Each of your acolytes feels a deep and unshakable affection towards you. They love and trust you with more certainty then they know anything else. Their rational mind can recognize the unusual reason for their affection, but acting on it is instinctively as difficult as chopping off one's hand usually is.
  • You feel a deep and unshakable affection towards your acolytes. If you harm them and don't make an attempt at healing them within a fortnight, your body will naturally feel betrayed and betray you in turn. You will grow sick more easily, fatigue after only moderate exertion and shake when your trying to be still.
(Flint Knife Midwife) Judas of the Flint Knife: (SunderedWorldDM)
  • Kill a dear friend forevermore in the sight of another with your flint knife.
  • You have no attachment to your acolytes whatsoever, and can treat them as expendable freely. However, you only ever get the three, so use them wisely.
(4) Prophet: (Lexi)
  • Obtain a harbinger, a follower who will proclaim your deeds and feats far and wide. The harbinger need not be human, but its appearance is irrevocably associated with your name and reputation.
  • You can see through your harbinger's eyes, and give them visions from your experiences and memories.
(5) Call to Outcasts: (Phlox)
  • Topple a settlement's government within three days of arriving there.
  • When you send a harbinger into a city or town you haven't been to before, you acquire 1d8 acolytes.
(5) The Last Choice: (Spwack)
  • Anoint a blade or other weapon with your blood. If you are struck with it, your soul is obliterated.
  • Whenever you slay something with your weapon, it's soul follows you as well. If you are slain, all the souls following you are released again. Powerful spirits that would be reincarnated, or creatures that wouldn't be killed by such a weapon, are likely to be very irritated with you.
(5) Bloodmonger: (Squig)
  • Taste the blood of a merchant, a lord, a prince, a king, and a demon. 
  • You can smell the blood of living creatures through nearly any barriers from up to a hundred paces away, and you can identify any creature by the taste of their blood.
  • As long as you are consistently being fed blood—through injection or ingestion either—you will not die, no matter the wound.
(5) Blood Diviner: (RandomWizard)
  • Create a pool of your own blood and drown yourself to unconsciousness in it. If the pool is spilled or dispersed, start again.
  • When you spill the blood of another creature, the blood forms into letters only you can read, containing 1d4 dire predictions of the future (5% chance per prediction of being wrong).
  • If you spill a droplet of your own blood onto the ground while reciting the name of a hidden secret, the droplet will flow about a hundred paces along the ground towards the secret. It can move up slopes or even up walls, but can't fly or burrow into the ground. If expected to go into a different dimension, it just goes in a random direction entirely.
(6) Lure of the Knife: (Loch)
  • Make one of your acolytes drink your blood without force or violence.
  • You may now gain new acolytes by arming them with weapons you made yourself.
(7) Eyes of Esotery: (Owlbear Chickenhawk)
  • drink a liter of human blood every day for a month. Each liter must be from a different person. If you miss a day, start again.
  • You may shoot a beam of burning light from your eyes, wherever they may be. Anyone who sees you do this will hear your Secret in the screams of the fallen and the Singing sounds of the beam. Therefore, they must die.

Heresiarchs of Belodin

As a consequence of the fractured nature of this Delta, I think it can lead to characters with very different feels to them that none the less are connected by a common thread, I think that's very intresting. I'll illustrate this by writing about several Heresiarchs who will soon be fighting over the fine city of Belodin.

Duke Vincent Belodin
An older gentlemen from a minor noble house who married into the Belodin family. Despite the scandal surrounding the untimely death of his first wife, he is the respected ruler of the Belodin Duchy. Known among the nobles for being a erudite scholar and once being an avid hunter. Known among the people for being a cruel master who rarely leaves leaves the manor.

Goals: Desires to have it all. Having already acquired temporal power from his marriage into the Belodin family, he seeks to use occult powers to secure it permanently. To that end, he's learning blacksmithing "as a hobby", discreetly sends agents to aquire a dragon's finger and the blood of a king and desperately searches for a way earn more acolytes.

Assets: He is the Duke of Belodin and has all the power that entails. In his manor there is a secret library of occult lore. Has 3 acolytes, Duchess Maria Belodin, the Bishop of Belodin, and his favorite hunting dog Sergie. They respectfully make him the ruler of the land, affirm his moral character and is a good boi. He always carried a flint knife hidden in his coat, and a cloud of ghosts. While the Bishop and Maria do remember being transfixed by Vincent's stares, Sergie is the only living being who is allowed to know, precisely because he's just a hound.

Weaknesses: As a Duke Vincent is paranoid about anyone finding his Secret, meaning he doesn't trust his Spymaster to do all his dirty work, incase they start to suspect him of his Heresy. This means his complicated web of proxies and agents are slow to maneuver, for he only trust his acolytes. He is too afraid of being found out to attain Eye-giver, Prophet or Blood Diviner even thought he knows how.

Powers: A Secret, Freed from Fungus, Freed from Fury, Eye Taker, Flint Knife Midwife, The Last Choice, and Judas of the Flint Knife.

Hooks: Belodin may (indirectly) hire the players to slay a dragon. The players might be investigating the disappearance of around 30 odd people that have gone missing. It's obvious that Belodin killed his first wife, someone needs to do something about this! Grandma Soil
They say there is an one-eyed witch who lives in the sewers of Belodin, from where she lords over the pigeons and the gnats, they say during the day her ghost wanders the streets in search of children and during the night she crawls up to snatch them away and takes their minds with their eyes. This is untrue, Grandman Soil's grandchildren give their eyes by choice. If your on good terms with the Crook Street gang, you can be allowed to meet her and receive a divination.

Goals: Wants to survive and look after her own. This means remaining an urban legend, ignored by the Church. The Duke and We-Will-Make-The-World-Anew are the greatest threats to her because they also know the Secret. If Soil plays her cards right, the two fools with destroy each other.

Assets: Intimate understand of the sewers from years living there, she could disappear in there forever if she had to. Her Harbinger is her daughter Tulip, who is a vagabond and spreads the wild rumors about Grandma Soil. Tulip is a Red Knife Heresiarch in her own right, but according to family tradition will only become an Eye-giver and start taking up Midwifery after Soil passes. Grandma Soil refers to her acolytes as her grandchildren, they consist of a handful one-eyed blind homeless people, and a flock of pigeons, and some poison Ivy, acting as her eyes and ears out in the world. Grandma Soil has an arrangement with the Crook Street gang, where they will look out for her grandchildren, and she preforms divinations and reconnaissance on their behave.

Weaknesses: She's old and near blind. If her cloak of obscurity were to fail, then she'd be easy pickings for her enemies. She's quick to anger when her grandchildren are threatened or someone implies that her love of them is a weakness. There was one time that she abandoned a grandchild, and her ailing body isn't so bad as the guilt.

Powers: A Secret, Pidgeon-Wrangler(for many vermin, not just pigeons), Furious Freedom, Gremlin-Child of the City, Finger-taker, Eye-giver, Flint-Knife Midwife, Prophet, Blood Diviner, Lure of the Knife

Hooks: The players need to find a secret that cannot be uncovered by normal means, and have a lead about a witch that might be able to help. The players have a run in with the Crook Street gang, and kill a one-eyed blind member they have. A pigeon flies over to you with the goal of killing the Duke and promise of a great reward.

This morning a precession has come into the city, guards armed with dragon bone, guarding a palanquin made of dragon bone. From inside the palanquin is a manticore that foretells the arrival of thier's master. Their master who is crowned with crows, their master who tramples the old oaks, their master who's eyes are cold fire, their master who will save this world! If the good people of Belodin submit now then the master promises them justice and freedom, otherwise they will know their master's power firsthand.

Goals: Dreams of fixing the world. We-Will-Make-The-World-Anew sees that the power of the Red Knife could be used to mend the bridges between people and nations. If only the leaders in each polity had the population as their acolytes, then they would not mistreat them. If the leaders of each polity were acolytes of each other, then they would not mistreat each other. Of course this would be a bureaucratic nightmare to organize, that's why We need to take the reigns of the world first.

Assets: They have their inner circle of disciples from before they became a Prophet. Thier right-hand orc, Thraw the Wizard who gave World-Anew her eye and finger and wields a dragon-spine staff, the gobbish alchemist Flitch who gave his step-brother's finger (because their an asshole).The three have access to so much dragon materials because they slayed the Red Terror of the West, and wasted no time putting each part of to good use. They have a whole damn wagon full of daggers to initiate acolytes with, and more dragon-sinew rope then a reasonable person knows that to do with. They have gathered a mob of fervent but not particularly competent acolytes on their campaign. The towns behind them are either burned to the ground or have had their rulers made to be acolytes. World-Anew's harbinger is the manticore Gorge who's loyalty was first won with dragon-flesh and then with memories. Their cult is called the Red Covenant, after the dragon it was founded on.

Weaknesses: While this campaign has momentum, it's unsustainable. The random gathering of miscreants that follow under Anew's banner will run out of steam eventually. Another issue is that Anew can't bring themselves to give any commands that would endanger the acolytes even if it's necessary. This leaves tactical operations to Thraw who is loyal to the cause but so callous as to be hated by the acolytes and Flitch who everyone likes, but tends to act selfishly. 

Powers: A Secret, Freed from Fungus, Pigeon Wrangler(crows), Furious Freedom, Finger-Taker, Eye-taker, Prophet, Call to Outcasts, Blood Monger, Blood Diviner, Lure of the Knife, Eyes of Esotery.

Hooks: Players might want to save Belodin from the invading threat. Or the manticore's promises sound good and they would like to join.


There is a lot of this thing that I can't really discuss because I haven't written most of the templates, but I did write the intro and 3 NPCs.

I wrote A Secret thinking that it would result in something like Cultist Simulator but instead of moths being mystically connected with scissors, the resulting lore would have it's own connections. That ended up panning out, but I don't think I faithposted something that actually explains how all these separate abilities thematically tie together.

I feel that I messed up a bit with Flint Knife Midwife because that made almost all the templates after it blood or knife themed. Blood, eyes and knives are really easy themes to converge around and I think if another Exquisite CΔrpse were to be done it might take effort not to do it again. Then again if a lot of the same participants are involved, people wouldn't want to repeat the same thing again. I also feel like I should have written something about angels in the my second template, but it was already on the larger side when I finishes writing it.

Flint Knife Midwife was written to have an almost symmetrical effect but with the Heresiarh being saddled with more responsibility because I think that's more interesting then making them being easily expendable shmucks. I choose to read that each time it says 'acolytes', they follow the same rules as in Flint Knife Midwife. I think Judas of the Flint Knife should interact with Lure of the Knife by adding the requirement that your new acolyte needs to murder the first to take their place, that feels right. I'm not sure how JoFK and Call to Outcasts should interact, the spirit of JoFK is that it makes acolytes nonrenewable and I want to keep that, even if that effectively means you lose CtO if you gain JoFK. The power of Blood does not like it when you try to cheat it.

It amuses me that Finger-take and Eye-taker are some of the more difficult to access abilites, due to the rarity of dragons and Wizards. I also think that Finger-taker would make a good theme ability if you changed the requirement and name. If there was a template I feel is missing from this set, it would be something called Finger-giver and I'm frankly scared to imagine what that would entail.

I do however like how thematically coherent each rank of powers turned out. It suggested a path from being some crazy hobbo to domain play. I wrote up the three NPCs to show how this pattern could play out in specific cases.

Rank 1 is entirely about mastering nature in what can be assumed is a city environment. 
Rank 2 continues that but also has the Heresiarh come to come up with a choice about their unreasonable anger. 
Rank 3 is all about giving and taking. 
Rank 4 asks you about if you see yourself as a 'caretaker' or truth-bringer, which fairly character defining. Rank 5 consists of the various ways you can develop your blood magic.
Rank 6 will likely be a freebie in most cases, but it means that after you develp your various blood magics, you can really start building an army.
Rank 7 lets you shoot eye-laser, what more could you want?

Overall I think this thing turned out very silly but in a good way. I hope to do this again sometime, but with someone else making the starting template, and maybe with the passing order being more varied, so that we don't get receive and give to the same people each round.